Raising awareness about resources for National Veterans and Military Families Month

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti
Updated January 9, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

National Veterans and Military Families Month occurs each November in the US. The President signs a proclamation in recognition of their service to the nation. Its purpose is to honor and support military families and veterans in particular and to connect them with helpful resources. According to the US Department of Defense, there are over 2.6 million military families across the globe. Throughout November, government campaigns related to military family month aim to support their health, education, financial freedom, and other aspects of well-being. Read on to learn more about the contributions military constituents and families make, the challenges they commonly face, and how you can support them this November.

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The history of National Veterans and Military Families Month 

This military family appreciation month occurs in November each year. The observance was first declared in 1996 by the Armed Services YMCA to celebrate the military community. Specific observances like Veterans Day—a holiday intended to honor former members of the US military—also take place in November. However, this month more broadly intends to celebrate both veterans and those who love and support active-duty military members or veterans, including spouses, children, other immediate family, and relatives. 

How to celebrate Military Family Month 

There are several ways you can choose to honor a service member during National Veterans and Military Families Month, including the following: 

  • Imparting information on social media about military family statistics and resources

  • Recognizing a military family member for their sacrifices

  • Participating in activism related to increasing support resources for veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental health concerns

  • Spending quality time with your own family 

  • Attending a support group for military families 

  • Donating to and/or volunteering for nonprofit organizations that support military families

The significance of National Veterans and Military Families Month

National Veterans and Military Families Month is significant for those with personal connections to military members because one of its goals is to provide them with support and resources. It may also be significant because of the impact that military families can have on their loved ones who are or were formerly in the service. Overall, the significance of this month often involves recognizing military families, veterans, and active-duty military members for their contributions and commitment to the nation.

Recognizing military families

Military families often make sacrifices and provide support to service members and veterans. They may stand by them during difficult life transitions, periods of loneliness, and concerns related to mental health. Military families may also have to spend significant time apart from their loved one(s) while they serve, as the average deployment is between six and 12 months

During this time, spouses of military personnel may have to parent children and manage family affairs alone, often all while living with daily concerns for their loved one’s safety. Military families may also move frequently—every 2.5 years, on average, often meaning regular disruptions to social lives and education. All of these sacrifices are made so that their loved one can contribute to military operations.

Military families often also help raise awareness about veterans’ rights, as they’re typically the ones with the personal experience of welcoming loved ones back from service. According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, 7% of veterans are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. The families of those affected are often integral in activism around making resources—such as mental health care—for veterans more readily available.

Recognizing active-duty service members and veterans

National Veterans and Military Families Month also honors active-duty service members and veterans who have had to leave their families to serve their country. Being away from those you love for so long can be challenging, especially when there are young children involved. Emotional challenges like these—in addition to the other challenges military members may face—can make their jobs more difficult.

Mental health resources for military families, veterans, and service members

Mental health is often a core component of National Veterans and Military Families Month events and discussions. For instance, studies show that over 19,000 children have had a parent wounded in action, and over 2,200 have lost a parent in Iraq or Afghanistan. Many of these children and their non-military parents experience symptoms of anxiety, stress, or PTSD as a result. Having resources in place for military family members to receive support in facing these kinds of challenges can be impactful. 

Local and federal resources

If you live on a military base, consider asking about events or resources for families of military members in the area. You can also research local veteran or military organizations and ask if they know about support options for military families. If you are a family member of a veteran, you might ask them directly how you can best support them, and consider exploring veteran or military family support groups. You can also get more information about mental health coverage available through VA insurance.

Organizations to connect with

There are several resources in place to support military families and their mental health, including the following programs and organizations: 

  • Military OneSource: a free hotline for family members of active duty members or veterans that you can call at any time, 24/7: 1-800-342-9647 (see Military OneSource’s fact sheet for resources available during Veterans and Military Families Month) 

  • The Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence (TBICOE): an organization that provides support and education for service members or veterans with a traumatic brain injury, as well as their family members 

  • TRICARE: health services for active-duty military members and their families

  • Hiring Our Heroes: military spouse and active-duty member resources for employment

  • USO Coffee Connections: a support group for military families and spouses to connect socially 

  • The US Veterans Affairs: official resources for military and veteran family members in various communities; includes defense department resources like the Spouse Education Career Opportunities program (SECO)

  • The Marine Corps Family Resources: various resources for military family members

  • Vets4Warriors: 24/7 support program staffed by veterans for active duty, National Guard, and reserve service members and their families

Support groups for veterans with PTSD 

As many veterans experience the impacts of PTSD, there are various support groups and resources available nationwide for them and their family members. If you are the spouse and/or caregiver of a veteran experiencing PTSD, you can visit the VA Caregiver Support website or call the VA Caregiver Support hotline at 1-855-260-3274. 

Below are a few other resources for veterans and their loved ones: 

  • Veterans Crisis Line: Call 1-800-273-8255 (and press 1) or text 838255. For support for the deaf and hard of hearing community, please use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255.

  • AboutFace: Learn about PTSD, find resources, and get advice from other veterans.

  • The National Center for PTSD: The website offers information, resources, and support for veterans and their family members.

  • PTSD Treatment Decision Aid: This resource provides a tool that helps veterans find support and care. 

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Counseling options 

Many family members of active-duty or retired service members may face mental health concerns. The separation, sacrifices, and trauma these individuals may experience can be challenging and isolating. However, there are various mental health resources available, including therapy.

If you have trouble building a relationship with a therapist in person due to frequent relocation or a lack of availability where you live now, you might benefit from online counseling. You can attend virtual counseling sessions from anywhere that you have an internet connection. You can also typically choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions with your provider. If you want direct support for military-related challenges, you can note upon signing up that you’re interested in a therapist who is educated in military family concerns. 

Online therapy can also be utilized by veterans, members of the armed forces, and their families. One study suggests that internet-based interventions for individuals with PTSD (which can be common among military families) can be effective for reducing symptoms of PTSD. If you or a loved one is interested in trying this therapy format, you might consider an online therapy platform like BetterHelp for individuals or a virtual counseling service like Regain for couples. Both options have thousands of licensed therapists, some of whom are military family members or veterans themselves. 

Takeaway

Every year, the president signs a proclamation to celebrate National Veterans and Military Family Month, which aims to promote awareness of resources for military families, active-duty military members, and veterans. This month also serves as a time to recognize the positive impact these individuals have on their communities. Veterans and military family members may face unique mental health challenges, but there are resources available, including through therapy. 

If you’re experiencing mental health concerns but don’t feel comfortable with traditional in-person therapy at this time, you might consider beginning with online therapy. With online therapy at BetterHelp, you can be matched with a therapist who has experience helping military members and their families. Take the first step toward getting mental health support, and reach out to BetterHelp today.

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